ABB Solar Solutions Support Antarctic Research Base

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ABB is continuing its work with Uruguayan government agency Instituto Antarctico Uruguayo (IAU) by providing solar power solutions for a second installation at the IAU’s Artigas research base in the Antarctic, helping facilitate climate change research.

The IAU – along with Uruguayan utility company UTE and the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining – wanted to strengthen the use of PV systems at the base to further increase the use of renewable energy instead of standby diesel generators.

In 2018, ABB’s solutions played a role in establishing the first solar system at the Artigas base.

“We were able to take the considerable learnings from the first installation in 2018 and apply them to this project,” notes Francisco Manfredi, service sales specialist at ABB. “Hence, we were able to provide an even more reliable solution and support the IAU in its goal of powering Artigas by renewable energy. The results so early into the project are fantastic and will help contribute to vital scientific research as the world reduces its reliance on fossil fuels to meet its climate challenges.”

Working with the installer, Smart Green Uruguay (SGU), the team had to negotiate harsh conditions to complete the installation in just three days. With the first project, the solar panels had been mounted onto building walls to minimize wind interference. However, this meant the position of the panels was not at the optimum tilt of 55 degrees North, resulting in a compromised performance. Taking this learning into the second installation, the team used ground-mounted the solar panels, achieving a better position for sunlight.

As a result, during sunlight hours in the summertime, up to 10% of the instant power demanded by the base can be provided by the optimized solar plant. It has already offset 0.8 metric tons of carbon emissions in the first two months since its installation – reducing Artigas’ impact on the Antarctic ecosystem and creating operational savings that will be put toward scientific research.

The solution includes ABB solar inverter UNO-DM-6.0-TL (6 kW at 230 VAC 1ph), MCB 40A 2-pole and RCD 40A 300mA 2-pole, 24 ground-mounted solar panels JINKO 270 W (12 modules per string), and a connection to ABB’s Aurora Vision Plant Management portal via the inverter’s embedded Wi-Fi interface.

ABB pre-configured the equipment by testing it in a laboratory to recreate the adverse Antarctic environment. ABB then provided extensive training for the installers and real-time support to SGU throughout the installation via the Aurora Vision Management platform.

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